3 easy ways to boost the returns of your ASX shares

The simplest things can sometimes save you the most money…

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It goes without saying that anyone who invests in ASX shares wants to maximise the returns on their investment. After all, the only real reason to buy ASX shares in the first place is to build wealth. And achieving the highest rate of return possible is the best way to ensure you are effectively increasing your wealth with the share market.

But of course, doing this is far easier said than done.

Luckily, today we'll be discussing three simple ways any ASX investor can boost their share market returns. These are brought to us by exchange-traded fund (ETF) provider BetaShares, which just released a report on this very subject.

Three easy ways to juice the returns of your ASX shares

Pay the lowest management fees possible

Passively investing in ASX shares using index funds or ETFs is an investment strategy that has exploded in popularity over the past decade or two. Many investors love the instant diversification and hands-off approach this strategy allows.

But passive investors who don't ensure they are paying the lowest management fees possible for their ASX shares can really hobble the compounding process and handicap future returns. Betashares ran a scenario comparing the impacts of investing in a high-cost ETF compared to a low-cost fund.

The provider found that someone who invests $1,000 a month into a fund returning 6% per annum but charging 1% in annual management fees would end up with 1,526,020 after 40 years. But let's assume that investor opted for a fund that also returns 6% every year but charges just 0.04% in fees instead.

If so, they would instead enjoy a final balance of $1,970,010 after those 40 years. That's a difference of $443,900. Put another way, that difference in management fees over those four decades amounts to a performance gap of 29%.

So make sure you are paying the lowest fees possible if you opt for a passive ASX shares investing strategy.

Minimise brokerage costs on your ASX shares

This is another simple fix that can save an ASX investor a few pretty pennies over time.

Brokerage costs have been falling on the ASX for years now. However, most investors can still expect to pay a brokerage fee every time they buy or sell ASX shares. These dead-wood costs can really add up after a while if one does not work to keep them in check.

Remember, the more frequently one invests, the more one will pay in brokerage fees. Someone who invests $500 every fortnight will probably pay double the brokerage fees of someone ploughing in $1,000 per month.

Free brokerage is still rare on the ASX and may not be as good as it seems. Saying that, Betashares found that someone paying $15 in brokerage every month would be $29,550 worse off after 40 years than an investor who never forks out for transaction fees.

Be mindful of your cash

Holding a certain proportion of one's overall wealth in liquid cash is a good idea. We here at the Motley Fool argue that everyone should keep an emergency fund of cash ready for a rainy day. For any unexpected costs, in other words. The last thing anyone who doesn't have spare cash ready to go needs is an unexpectedly large cost that requires unnecessary borrowing or untimely selling of shares.

However, keeping too much of one's wealth in cash can be harmful to one's long-term wealth. This opportunity cost against ASX shares has reduced significantly with the current high interest rate environment. Even so, many Australians still don't keep their cash in accounts that pay the highest interest rates.

Betashares found that there is a monumental cost of keeping more cash around for longer. It found that someone who invests $1,000 a month into that 6%-retuning index fund would be $131,433 better off after 40 years than someone who simply saves up their cash all year and invests $12,000 in an annual lump sum.

That does assume our investor earns zero interest on that cash while it's sitting in the bank. Even so, this is a good exercise to show off the benefits of investing in ASX shares as much as you can, as soon as you can.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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